Preview: Gloucester v Toulouse

Date published: January 19 2012

Toulouse must take at least two points from Friday's clash at Gloucester to be assured of a spot in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

Toulouse must take at least two points from Friday's clash with Gloucester at Kingsholm to be assured of a spot in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals.

The four-time champions will be looking to qualify for the knock-out stages for an incredible fourteenth time.

The current champions of France have faced their West Country hosts just once before in European competition, winning 21-17 in a tight game in Toulouse in the first match of Pool Six this season.

The Cherry and Whites cannot qualify for the Heineken Cup knock-out stages or the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals and have nothing to play for but pride in the final game of their European campaign.

If pool leaders Toulouse get two points on English soil (a draw or two bonus points) and rivals Harlequins fail to beat Connacht with a bonus point – thus leaving them both on 20 points – the French side will top the pool on the head-to-head ruling.

Gloucester Head Coach Bryan Redpath has kept faith with the majority of the side that ran Harlequins so close last weekend with Rupert Harden's return at tighthead the only change to the starting line up.

The Cherry and Whites led at half time at Quins last Saturday and also for the majority of the second half until a wicked bouncing ball just minutes from full time allowed the hosts to pounce for the winning score.

Gloucester have been more than competitive in this group and were only denied a famous victory in the first meeting between these two teams by a controversial late score.

Talking to the media ahead of the game, Redpath admitted that it's been small margins that have cost his team in Europe this year.

“Toulouse and Quins away, we could have had several more points in the bag. They're small margins. We put in a very good performance at Toulouse and lost to a try seven minutes from time,” said Redpath.

“Last weekend, we played pretty well. They (Quins) had two opportunities and the ball bounced badly for us and they capitalised on them.”

“I can't fault the players' effort, it's just been one or two little things that have let us down. Some things you can't control. But you can't let these things get you down, you have to keep plugging away.

“But to bring Toulouse back to Kingsholm on a Friday night is probably one of the biggest games you'll get in club rugby for a Gloucester player.

“It's a great opportunity for our players to go toe to toe with one of the very top teams in Europe. It's a reputation game and a chance to shine.”

Meanwhile, Toulous have made six changes to the starting XV that beat Connacht last week.

Record try-scorer Vincent Clerc drops to bench with Yves Donguy starting on the left wing. There new midfield as Yannick Jauzion returns and is joined by Clément Poitrenaud.

Lionel Beauxis takes over from Luke McAlister at fly-half while Yannick Nyanga comes into the loose trio ahead of veteran Jean Bouilhou.

Rugby Union betting odds

The teams:

Gloucester: 15 Jonny May, 14 Charlie Sharples, 13 Mike Tindall, 12 Eliota Fuimaono-Sapolu, 11 James Simpson-Daniel, 10 Freddie Burns, 9 Rory Lawson, 8 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Akapusi Qera, 6 Alasdair Stroskoch, 5 Alex Brown, 4 Jim Hamilton, 3 Rupert Harden, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Nick Wood.
Replacements: 16 Darren Dawidiuk, 17 Dan Murphy, 18 Shaun Knight, 19 Will James, 20 Matt Cox, 21 Dave Lewis, 22 Ryan Mills, 23 Henry Trinder

Stade Toulousain: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Timoci Matanavou, 13 Yannick Jauzion, 12 Clément Poitrenaud, 11 Yves Donguy, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Louis Picamoles , 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Yoann Maestri, 3 Census Johnston, 2 William Servat, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Christopher Tolofua, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Dan Human, 19 Grégory Lamboley, 20 Jean Bouilhou 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22Vincent Clerc, 23 Shaun Sowerby,

Date: Friday, January 20
Venue: Kingsholm, Gloucester
Kick-off: 20.00 GMT
Referee: George Clancy